Cobb and Kahana Named Kahn Term Professors

Paul M. Cobb and Michael J. Kahana

Paul M. Cobb, Professor and Chair of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Michael J. Kahana, Professor of Psychology, have been named Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professors.

Cobb studies the historical connections between the Islamic world and the West, particularly during the Middle Ages. Specific areas of his expertise include Islamic interactions with Europe, travel and exploration in premodern Eurasia, historiography and biography, and Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations. He is a recipent of Guggenheim, Fulbright, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. Cobb’s books include White Banners: Contention in ‘Abbasid Syria, 750-880; a translation of Usama ibn Munqidh’s The Book of Contemplation: Islam and the Crusades; and The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades. He is currently at work on a book that follows the adventures and travels of Johannes Schiltberger, a German teenager who was captured in 1396 in Hungary while on crusade against the Turks.

Research in Kahana’s Computational Memory Lab aims to understand the mechanisms of human memory search using a combination of computational, behavioral, and electrophysiological methods. He received the 2018 Howard Crosby Warren medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists, psychology’s oldest and most prestigious award, “for his fundamental contributions to the formal modeling of retrieved context information in memory and his remarkable discoveries in the human neuroscience of memory.” He is also a recipient of the Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences and the inaugural mid-career award from the Psychonomic Society. Kahana is author of Foundations of Human Memory and more than 175 peer reviewed publications.

The Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Endowed Term Chairs were established through a bequest by Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn. Edmund Kahn was a 1925 Wharton graduate who had a highly successful career in the oil and natural gas industry. Louise Kahn, a graduate of Smith College, worked for Newsweek and owned an interior design firm. They supported many programs and projects at Penn, including Van Pelt Library, the Modern Languages College House, and other initiatives in scholarship and the humanities.


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